The recently-concluded Ashes series saw four players making their debuts in Test cricket. Aayush Puthran takes a look at their performances.
As it turned out, the recently-concluded Ashes series didn’t provide for any magical moments for the new-comers, who were waiting for their opportunity to announce themselves to the world at the grandest cricketing stage of them all.
Although they had their moments in the series, none of them stole the limelight with a match-winning performance.
Here is a report card of the debutants
Certainly the star figure of the first Test at Trent Bridge, Agar’s exploits with the bat stood out even as Australia lost after coming agonisingly close to a victory. The baby-faced Agar’s inclusion in the side ahead of the more experienced Nathan Lyon and the more talked-about Fawad Ahmed was by itself surprising, yet his innings added more zing to what turned out to be the latest Ashes topic of discussion. Surprisingly it wasn’t his left-arm bowling which had anything special for the cricket lovers to notice or the England batsmen to be threatened of. Nonetheless, it was his brilliant 98 as a number 11 that stood out and drew the praise from former and current cricketers world over. A tantalisingly close Test match, controversial umpiring and DRS howler were all overshadowed by Agar’s batting feat. However, the charm was to die soon as his ordinary bowling left much wanting, even as he showed in the first two Tests that he could bat better than some of the frontline batsmen in the team.
Making an Ashes debut is a dream for any English or Australian cricketer. Little would have Kerrigan expected the harsh reception he was to receive. He ended up receiving a lot of flak and criticism, as undeserving and unfair as they were true. It was a curious case of the young spinner who bowled hardly eight overs in the match. It was certain that Kerrigan didn’t inspire enough confidence and looked less than ordinary, but it wouldn’t be right to judge him so harshly with just his performance in the Oval Test. The criticisms were sharp and nasty enough to bring down the confidence of most young cricketers.
Of all the players to make their debut in the recently-concluded Ashes series, Faulkner would’ve been the happiest with his performance. Apart from his left-arm pace bowling, Faulkner could add stability lower down the order with bat as well. The Tasmanian returned with six wickets at an average of 16.33 and collected 45 runs with the bat in the only match he played in the series. Although he was the pick of the bowlers in the first innings, it is easy for one to believe that Faulkner was underutilised with the ball.
The all-rounder didn’t create ripples with the bat and didn’t do anything but drew criticism for his efforts with the ball. His role in the team needs to be assessed correctly as to whether he is playing as a batsman who can bowl or vice versa. However, those who have followed his career vouch for the fact that Woakes is a far better and a more invaluable player than what his performance at The Oval suggested. His batting was decent enough, but bowling required more zing and spike!
Overall, if the author had to select his moment of the Ashes (debutants), it would hands down be Agar’s entertaining knock of 98 in the first Test.
While, Faulkner would win the Best Performer (debutant) award, Kerrigan will walk away with the Razzies!
(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)